Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Joy of a New Planner

I know I have shared about my love of school supplies in the past.  This year was the first year our daughter had a substantial school supply list, and I was so excited to share my love of school supply shopping with her (and to be honest simultaneously get my school supply fix for myself).  And then we got the school supply kit order form from the school.  Apparently now teachers now get to select supplies they want in a kit and parents can order it.  It’s faster, more convenient, easier, less expensive, better for the teachers because they are guaranteed to get exactly the specific supplies they need… and utterly depressing for school supply lovers like me.  There was one item, some dot stickers, not included in the kit.  Believe me – I made an event out of buying those dot stickers.  There was a special outing and a photo op and everything.  But it just wasn’t the same.

So I came home and drowned my sorrows in my shiny new planner I had gotten a few weeks earlier.  Of course I know that phones have calendars on them now.  However, I just use my phone’s calendar as a backup to my written planner.  I have always done this – ever since high school when one of the school supplies I was always excited to get was my brand new assignment notebook for the year.  For several years, calendar books and planners were hard to find or quite boring when I was able to find one I assume because of the calendars on the phones.  Just about five years ago, I was afraid they were going to stop making calendar books and planners entirely because they were so hard to find.  I finally found a student planner reminiscent of my old high school assignment notebooks at Vera Bradley a few years ago.  I really liked it even though it was meant for high school or college kids.  And I must not be alone in my love affair with planners and calendar books because then suddenly they have apparently become cool again.  There started to be more and more cute options.  This year when I went to Paper Source to find a calendar book, there were so many choices!  (I, of course, went with the pink and sparkly option.)

My Planner

And there are so many stickers and accessories to go with the planners now!  I’ve heard that there are entire Etsy stores that sell nothing but stickers for calendars.  I have yet to check out these sites, but I am intrigued by the possibilities.  I had a lovely time filling in important dates, holiday traditions, reminders, and notes in my beautiful new planner.  In fact my new planner is so complete that I was able to transfer several ongoing lists of projects I want to do into it.  So instead of 3 notebooks plus my calendar book, I now have just one planner full of everything.  I don’t know why I find this to be so satisfying, but I do.  Perhaps it’s because it combines holidays and organizing – 2 of my favorite things.  So even if my new planner was my only opportunity to play with shiny new school supplies this year, at least I enjoyed it completely!  In a world where school supplies now come in convenient yet depressing kits, I hope that the fancy planner trend is one that lasts for years to come.

Shopkins Birthday Party

I have so loved planning our daughter’s birthday parties over the years.  The teacher in me relished in creating party themes based on some of my favorite children’s books.  And while I still hold out hope to get to throw a Mo Willem’s Pigeon themed party someday, I had figured that this year our daughter would have her own strong opinions about choosing a theme for her birthday party.  I was right.  About 6 months before her birthday, out of the blue as we were leaving the grocery store (one of her favorite places to go), she announced that she wanted to have a birthday party with a shopping cart and a ball pit.  Hmmmm.  Not much to work with, right?  I thought this was just a whim and that surely she would forget and pick another better theme for her birthday party as the date got closer.  Nope.  She stuck with the shopping cart and ball pit idea and began telling every random person that she was having a shopping cart and ball pit birthday.  What to do, what to do?  After 4 years of perfectly planned classic children’s book themes this was almost more than I handle.  And then it hit me – Shopkins!  Thanks to the Shopkins (which our daughter also loves anyway) I was able to plan a party with a nice theme that naturally revolved around shopping carts.  As far as the ball pit went, I figured we could always add a ball pit to any type of party!

So I started hunting for everything and anything that might have to do with Shopkins, grocery shopping, and, of course, shopping carts.  I found ideas on Pinterest; darling Shopkins birthday supplies at Party City and Target; shopping carts (big and mini), toy food, and balls for the ball pit on Amazon; Shopkins ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics; and berry baskets, brown paper bags, Shopkins themselves, Shopkins games, stuffed Shopkins, and a neon sign that you might find in a grocery store that says “FUN” at Michaels.  Even though I had pooh-poohed the idea at first, I have to say it ended up being the most fun party to plan and throw.

I put a brown shopping bag on the front of the invitations.  I figured “born to shop” seemed appropriate for our daughter’s birthday party.  The insides of the invitations had pictures of Shopkins along with the party information.

Shopkins Party Invitation

I also used the little brown shopping bag idea for food labels and table decorations.

Tiny Grocery Bags

I was able to find the perfect shopping cart of our daughter’s dreams on Amazon and filled it with stuffed Shopkins.

Shopping Cart Full of Stuffed Shopkins

I also found mini shopping carts on Amazon and filled them with Shopkins to use as table decorations for the party.  And after the party, our daughter still loves playing with them!

Mini Shopping Cart Filled With Shopkins

Since one of the Shopkins is a box of popcorn, and since our daughter loves to eat popcorn and loves balloons, I made a giant box of “popcorn” made out of yellow and white balloons.

Balloon Popcorn

The favors were so much fun to put together.  I collected all kinds of Shopkins “stuff” as well as chocolate chip cookies since there is a cookie Shopkin and put them all together in a berry basket, again something that might be found at a real grocery store.  I tied them up with some Shopkins ribbon.

Shopkins Favors Filler

Shopkins Party Favor

I also used the berry baskets for centerpieces which were honestly a quick fix.  The centerpieces kept blowing away because it was really windy, so I grabbed some rocks from our daughter’s rock collection in the backyard and stuck them into some extra berry baskets and used hot glue to attach the paper shreds and centerpieces to the tops.  Even though they were a last minute idea, I ended up loving them!

Shopkins Centerpiece

The birthday girl herself needed to be all decked out too of course.  In addition to a Shopkins shirt we found at Target, I made her hairbows from some of the Shopkins ribbon.

Shopkins Bows

The food was really fun and easy to plan since many of the Shopkins characters are food anyway!  In fact each food item was also a Shopkins character.  We had apple juice, strawberries, a giant doughnut from a local bakery, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, Shopkins fruit snacks, and popcorn.  I also made a cake in the shape of a shopping cart per our daughter’s request.

Shopkins Food

Shopping Cart Cake

Party activities included the ball pit (obviously), the balloon popcorn, a Shopkins pinata, a really fun game of “Fastest Shopper” which was kind of like an Easter Egg hunt except with little grocery bags instead of baskets and toy food instead of eggs, and a bunch of Shopkins games.  They were all big hits!

Ball Pit

Shopkins Games

All in all, it was a great celebration.  It had everything I wanted in a party, even if it wasn’t based on a classic children’s book.

Cute decorations – check.

Fun theme – check.

Good food – check.

Fun activities – check.

And most important, happy birthday girl – check!  It also had everything our daughter wanted in a party.

Shopping cart – check.

Ball pit – check.

Thanks, Shopkins for saving the day!

4th Blogiversary

Another year, another blog.  In fact I’ve been writing this little blog for 4 years now!  Last year I said a lot had changed over the years, and this year there are more big changes.  I’m no longer working at my dream job teaching preschoolers.  Instead I will be a substitute teacher.  It is a very bittersweet change.  I was so sad to leave the preschool, but I’m so happy I will still get the opportunity to be in classrooms with children while simultaneously having a more flexible schedule now for my actual dream job – being a mommy to our precious daughter.  I also hope to have more time to relax and actually get to do and enjoy the craft projects and celebrations described in this blog.  I also hope to be able to post blog entires about them more often.

In fact I’ve already found time this summer to write more blog posts and work on some projects I’ve had waiting in the wings for years. One project is learning to do hand lettering so that I can make better seasonal signs, chalkboard designs, cards, you name it.  I’m planning on taking a class in the fall, and I’ve already been experimenting with some practice books at home like The Hand Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt.  This book is so much fun that our daughter decided to join in and practice her letters as well…

Handwriting Practice

… and also draw some elephants.  Because every handwriting book needs an elephant or two, right?

There’s An Elephant in the Handwriting Book…

Besides learning to write fancy letters, I am also looking forward to hopefully being a room mother in our daughter’s classroom this year.  When I was growing up, my mother was room mother extraordinaire – the mother of all room mothers you could say.  On the first day of school kids were always thrilled to find out I was in their class because they knew that meant my mom would be bringing fabulous parties for even the smallest of holidays all year.  I was always so proud of her, and I’m eager to follow in her footsteps.  I’m already strategizing (and stressing) about how to make a beeline at back to school night to find the sign up sheet for room mother to make sure I make it on the list before it is all filled up.

So hopefully I’ll have lots to share on my blog this year.  Even though my blog STILL hasn’t made me my millions yet, I’m looking forward to having more time for it.  I’ll see how this year goes and decide whether or not to keep doing it in the future.  It’s fun to share ideas, and I hope you enjoy reading them.  Thanks for reading!

Ode to the Staycation

I am a homebody.  I’m perfectly content puttering around the house, and I don’t like to travel.  I’m afraid of flying, and I get antsy in the car for long trips.  Most of all, I much prefer my nice clean house – especially the nice clean bathrooms in my nice clean house – over the questionable at best cleanliness in even the nicest hotels.  You may think that is all weird, but it’s me.  That’s why I was so excited about our recent summer staycation – and it was fabulous.  Let me take a moment to sing the praises of the staycation:

  1.  The weather – it was perfect.  Sunny and cool at the end of June.  I know that was just dumb luck on our part, but it was wonderful.  And the nice thing about a staycation is that had the weather not been perfect on any given day, we could have easily rearranged our plans rather than being tied down to a tight schedule the way we would have been if we would have been far from home.
  2. Flexibility – again, no tight schedule.  We woke up when we wanted, headed out to each day’s activity when we were ready, stayed as long as we wanted each place… it was great.
  3. Relaxation – at the end of each day, we got to come home and just hang out, again in our nice clean house.  And we got to just veg.  When I was growing up, my dad – aka the Energizer Bunny –  always packed our family vacations so full of activities each day that it left little time for relaxation.  My favorite vacation memory was the time my mom told my dad that he could go sight seeing on his own one afternoon because we were just too hot and tired to do any more that day.  My mom and I went back to the hotel, split an apple juice and a bag of Cheetos from the vending machine, and watched a movie in the hotel room.  It was heavenly.
  4. Less expensive – each place we visited we already had memberships or we had already purchased discount tickets months earlier when we had the opportunity.  So it felt like everything was free because we had already paid for everything.  And we were able to eat at home each evening instead of having to eat out.  Unless we decided wanted to go out for a nice dinner for fun – again with the flexibility and relaxation.
  5. No recovery – there was no unpacking, no mounds of laundry to do at the end of the week.  Aside from putting away a few new random gift shop purchases everything was back to normal right away.

So thank you, staycation, for a wonderful week.  I hope to do it again next year!  My husband is a homebody like me, so I know he’d be up for it.  I’m not sure how long we can keep our daughter convinced that staying home is the way to go though… She recently convinced our neighbors that we are taking a trip to Egypt soon (To clarify, we have no plans to visit Egypt, but she does.  She is actually planning a trip there.  She loves everything about ancient Egypt, so she’s bound and determined that she is going – whether or not we choose to accompany her!), and when we were at Pottery Barn Kids picking out her new backpack for school she was more interested in trying out suitcases and luggage she’ll need for her trip to Egypt.  Our staycation days may be numbered if she has anything to say about it!  I’ll just enjoy staying home at “our happy place” for now.